Major fund set up to help hard-hit riding schools feed their horses *H&H Plus*

  • As riding schools across the country struggle to finance the care of their horses while there is no revenue coming in from lessons, the British Horse Society has stepped in to help. H&H finds out more about the plans...

    Thousands of pounds is to be made available to help riding centres affected by the coronavirus pandemic care for their horses.

    The British Horse Society (BHS) opened applications for its new hardship fund for approved riding schools’ horses and ponies on Friday (17 April) in response to the struggle many business owners are facing with no income and equines to care for (news, 16 April).

    The ring-fenced funding is specifically for the welfare and care of horses, and 150 riding schools have so far applied.

    “The hardship fund has been made possible thanks to financial contributions from our national, regional and county committees, along with money allocated from the society’s welfare restricted funds managed centrally,” the society said in a statement.

    BHS chief executive James Hick told H&H riding schools are the “lifeblood” of the equestrian world and what the charity stands for in education, welfare, safety and participation.

    “The essence of this fund is how our national, regional and county committee funds have all come together, using the funds they have raised through all their volunteering work over a number of years — thousands of hours of work — to be able to put together a fund that we can spend locally in our riding schools,” he said.

    “I spoke to our national, regional and county chairs on [7 April], we then had a conference call just before Easter and as of today [15 April] the figure they have raised stands at more than £224,000. That is incredible.

    “From our central funds we will put another £70,000 into that, so we are nearly at £300,000, which equates to a payment of £750 per approved riding school for the welfare of the horses.

    “This is for helping where there is need for food, forage, farrier, veterinary fees that need to be paid. For those who wish to claim, they will need to provide proof of invoices.”

    The charity previously announced it would waive BHS membership fees for its approved centres for the next 12 months, which equates to around £200,000 coming out of its reserves that will be put towards the hardship fund.

    “That’s close to £500,000 that the BHS has been able to bring together to support local riding schools within weeks,” said Mr Hick.“We are going to continue to build on that with crowdfunding activity as well.”

    BHS Fellow Tim Downes, who owns Ingestre Stables in Stafford, told H&H that while how significant the help is does depend on the size of each business — in terms of how far £750 will go — it is welcome.
    “It is great that the BHS has done this and it is great they have spent time trying to find the fairest way possible,” he said.

    “It might not be a huge amount, but when you multiply that by 400-odd schools, that is a lot of money.”

    Ref Horse & Hound, 23 April 2020

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